Sean Taylor & James Taylor

Venue: Talking Heads
Town: Southampton
Date: 22nd May

As regular readers will know, I'm a huge fan of Sean Taylor, I think he's one of the most under-estimated guitarists in the country as well as being a great singer-songwriter. I've seen him play on numerous occasions at venues large and small, but his set at Talking Heads was a first for me as it was the first time I'd seen him share the stage with another musician. The musician in question being percussionist, James Taylor, no relation. (I could probably do a line here about Carly Simon not writing him a song, but he's probably heard them all by now.)

Sean started his set on his own, by way of introduction, before inviting James to join him on stage and take his place behind an array of things to hit and shake. As the first song started, one of the things that struck you, before you even registered the additional sounds in previously familiar songs, was the intensity of focus. James looking across the stage to shadow and enhance what was going on.

As the song progressed, you very quickly realised that the percussion wasn't there to provide a rhythm, it was there to enhance and emphasise, almost like a backing singer in percussive form. Both musicians are more than capable of taking any of the songs off with a subtle riff here, a well thought out improvisation there, so there needs to be absolute trust in the interplay. James is definitely a man that understands the significance of less equals more, a flourish better than constant.

Sean Taylor has got a new album out in the Autumn, one that was recorded just before his Australian tour and he's gradually introducing songs from it into the set. The songs range from the soulful, through to blues rockers, there are also a couple of songs with a more Americana type feel, possibly a by-product of recording the album in Austin. "Texas Boogie" becomes a bit of a stand out, partly because it is a little unexpected, but also because of the way Sean uses it, not only to name check a lot of his heroes and influence, but also uses it to name check the town he's playing, which brought out a big cheer.

Places, people and, often, politics play and important part of Sean's music, they are what inspire him and it gives you something to relate to. It's no coincidence that his trademark song, "Calcutta Grove", pulls in so many of those elements.

I really enjoyed the night at Talking Heads, great company and more importantly a great gig. There is a dynamic interplay between two musicians in the top ranks of their respective instruments. It definitely brings a new dynamic to Sean's live set, having that additional musician to riff off. It' what music should be about, evolving and being different every time you hear it, the key is that everyone enjoys it and judging by the smiles on and off stage, job done.

Neil King, words and pics

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